Networks Europe Issue 19 January/February 2019 - Page 23

WIRELESS NETWORKS By Dan Payerle Barrera, Global Product Manager – Data Cable Testers, IDEAL Networks 23 While 5G promises improved mobile performance, cable providers and LAN cabling installers shouldn’t panic just yet Interest around 5G built significantly during 2018, with major mobile network providers across the world conducting testing and smartphone manufacturers preparing to release 5G enabled handsets. So, how did we get here? To understand why 5G is different, it’s necessary to look back at the progress of mobile or cellular systems. Having started out with AMPS (Advanced Mobile Phone System) analogue mobile telephones, the first phones with data capability were launched around the turn of the century with GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) systems. This offered advanced text messaging capability, MMS (multi-media messaging) and basic web page browsing. However, it wasn’t until the introduction of 3G that data rates supported an Internet experience somewhat like the way you would on a home Internet connection. The big step forward was the advent of 4G (aka LTE – long term evolution), which saw a huge change in the core technology used for mobile network infrastructure and mobile devices. 4G provided a significant increase in bandwidth to mobile devices, while in some cases the upgrades to the network infrastructure were limited to replacing equipment and didn’t necessarily require the installation of new towers/cells in areas that already had 3G coverage. How 5G is different It would be easy to presume that 5G is a straightforward upgrade from 4G, using the existing cell towers and updated software to enhance performance. In fact, 5G requires a significant infrastructure change. Not only will existing mobile towers require updating, but additional towers will need to be added. However, the big difference is that 5G will rely on the seamless integration of mobile broadband networks operating at new frequency spectrums with Wi-Fi hotspots to provide network users with the required level of consistent service. In other words, a phone will switch from a mobile signal to a provider’s Wi-Fi automatically when in range to preserve capacity on the mobile network. The limitations of 5G The big promise of 5G is higher data rates compared to previous generations. However, as we already know from PEAK DATA RATES Frequency Spectrum Windows 4G 0.1-0.5 Gbit/s 5G 0.1-0.5 Gbit/s Approx. Distance 700 MHz 4000 m 900 MHz 3100 m 1.8 GHz 1500 m 2.1 GHz 1300 m 2.3 GHz 1200 m Wi-Fi 2.4 GHz 2.6 GHz *200 m 1100 m 3.4-3.8 GHz 750 m Wi-Fi 5.8 GHz *80 m 24-27 GHz 110 m 37-44 GHz 70 m 66-71 GHz 40 m *Wi-Fi power limited to approximately 85% less than cellular common Wi-Fi frequencies, there’s a relationship between data speed and the distance that the signal can travel. For instance, while a 5.8GHz Wi-Fi frequency offers clear advantages in terms of the amount and speed of data, users tend to find that the lower 2.4GHz frequency offers stronger signal strength with distance and therefore better service if you’re further away from the Wi-Fi access point. Lower frequencies can also penetrate through walls and other physical obstructions. Mobile frequencies, such as 5G, are no different. The further the signal reaches, the fewer cell towers are needed to provide service. As 5G will utilise higher frequency windows, around 30-70GHz depending on the carrier, it will